Latin America is now a key focus for Disney’s sports network ESPN internationally according to chief executive Bob Iger. Speaking to analysts following Disney’s third-quarter results, Iger said that, following its decision to exit its ESPN Star Sports Asian joint venture with News Corp and it losing key football rights in the UK, the company would refocus its attention on Latin America.
“On the international front, ESPN’s track record internationally has not really delivered the kind of bottom-line results that we would have liked or expected,” Iger said. “The bid that we made for instance for Premier League was we considered to be a rational bid to try to turn ESPN’s business in the U.K. into a profitable business and were outbid by very, very powerful local distributor making it not only impossible to compete with them, but it made no sense for us to do so because it simply would not have benefited our bottom line.”
Speaking about ESPN Star Sports in Asia, Iger said that Disney did not see it driving great growth for Disney and that it has a different point of view about the direction of the business to its joint venture partner, News Corp, which has agreed to buy out ESPN’s share. “We decided, basically, with News Corp. being very interested, to sell our interest back to them and to pursue other markets for ESPN internationally, notably Latin America.”
Disney reported third-quarter revenues of US$11.1 billion (€8.9 billion) compared with US$10.7 billion in the corresponding period a year earlier. Quarterly net income was US$1.8 billion, a 24% increase year-on-year.
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